Friday, 14 October 2016

Ambassador ret.Yoram Ettinger: Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) guide for the perplexed, 2016

1. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles(in Hebrew – named after the first stop in the Exodus, the town of Sukkota (סכותה)Exodus 13:20 and Numbers 33:3-5 - commemorates the transition of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt to sovereignty in the Land of Israel, from nomadic life in the desert to permanence in the Promised Land, from oblivion to deliverance, and from the spiritual state-of-mind during the High Holidays to the mundane of the rest of the year. Sukkot aims at universal – not only Jewish – deliverance.

2. The commandment to erect Sukkot (booths), and celebrate a 7-day-holiday, commemorating the stage of transition, was specified in Leviticus 23:42-43).

3. Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacle) is the only Jewish holiday which is one of the three pilgrimages to Jerusalem (along with Passover and Pentecost) – and therefore named “Holy Reading” - as well as one of the three holidays celebrated during the holy Jewish month of Tishrei (on the 15th day of Tishrei following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and therefore named “Shabbaton,” Sabbatical. Sukkot commemorates the beginning of the construction of the Holy Tabernacle in the Sinai desert.

4. Sukkot has played a key role in the reconstruction of the Jewish Homeland and the ingathering of Jews – and their transition - to the Land of Israel. For instance, the town of Sukkot was the first stop of Jacob the Patriarch upon returning, to the Land of Israel, from a 20-year-long work for Laban (Genesis 33:17).